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It is important, in order for the economy to see the environment worth something, to put an economic value on it. For this reason, a group of scientists for the Center for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment have developed an economic valuation for the environment. According to them, it is necessary to impute a value to environmental goods or services (Pearce et al, online). This value is necessary because the economy needs to see that the protection of the environment can prove cost worthy to business and industry. The purpose of valuation is to show true costs of using up scarce environmental resources. It is a way for environmentalists and economists to put a dollar figure on the services the environment provides. Robert Costanza, an ecological economist from the University of Maryland, has done just this. The estimate of services provided by ecosystems worldwide is 33 trillion dollars annually, surpassing the gross national product of al the countries on earth combined by eight trillion dollars (Zimmer 105). The environment provides services not only commercially, such as timber, but also in less visible ways. For instance, forests protect from soil erosion, which proves costly to correct. With these facts in mind, depleting ecosystems an resources proves costly, while protection them can only save money.
Business and the American economy has much to gain by altering their current practices. One prime example of how protection the environment can prove beneficial to a company is a program created by 3M called Pollution Prevention Pays.
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As Paul Hawken, an environmentalist and author of "Ecology of Commerce", explains, "the single most damaging aspect of the present economic system is that the expense of destroying the earth is largely absent fro prices set at the marketplace" (13). Market prices set for products don't include the cost that future generations will have to pay to clean up the mess the current economy is fueling right now. An economy based on the rapid depletion of its own non-renewable resources is certainly destined for doom, while protection of these resources will save the businesses or corporations money while protecting what fuels it.
Hawken, Paul. "Ecology of Commerce". HarperCollins Publishing. 1993.
Pearce, David, Hadker, Nandidn, Whittington, Dale, and Dominic, Moran. "Economic Values and the Environment in the Developing World". http://unep.unep.org/unep/products/eeu/ecoserie/ecso14/ecos141.htm.
Schug, Mark, C. and Western, Richard, D. "An Economic Perspective on Protecting the Environment". Social Education v61 n6. October 1, 1997. Pgs 329-330.
Zimmer, Carl. "The Value of the Free Lunch". Discover. January 1998. Pgs. 104-105.